Friday, June 24, 2016

Media entrepreneurship takes hold at universities

Journalism professors are adapting to the realities of a historically tough job market. Their graduates are struggling to find stable work in an industry whose biggest players have been cutting staff for a decade.

So universities are teaching new skills -- multimedia production, community management, data management and visualization, among others -- as well as the traditional reporting, writing, and audivisual production skills.

They are also finding new business models. While the traditional media companies are hamstrung by mountains of debt and declining revenue, universities are stepping up to innovate and create new forms of journalism for the digital age.

A Facebook group for those interested in teaching media innovation and entrepreneurship has reached 800 members. And the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism is about to hold its third summit for educators in this growing field on July 15. Jeff Jarvis and Jeremy Caplan have been leaders in this field. I participated in the first two summit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spain's most successful digital journalism startup

In our search for the next big thing, we often overlook some of the steady innovators who grow organically without millionaire investors or crushing debt loads.

Alfonso Vara-Miguel of UNAV
One such example is El Confidencial of Spain (their slogan: "The preferred daily of influential readers").

This is a digital news publication whose value proposition for 15 years has been to offer quality news exclusives "that other media cover up or don't publish because of their overlapping political and business interests," according to researcher Alfonso Vara-Miguel, professor at the University of Navarra (in Innovación y desarrollo de los cibermedios en España, 2016, Eunsa, Pamplona, pp. 166-77).

Spanish news consumers are more skeptical of their news media than most (more on that below), so this independent-spirited publication, with a philosophy of spending no more than it takes in, has racked up some impressive numbers:

  • advertising revenue exceeded US $9.9 million in 2014
  • after-tax profits were US $1.3 million in 2014
  • full-time staff numbered more than 100
  • it averaged 735,000 daily readers in August 2015 (ComScore)

The value proposition is exclusive journalism free of political and business influence. 

Versión en español